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Archive for May 3rd, 2006

Beautiful City: New York, Part 2

Wednesday, May 3rd, 2006

NYUkefestFriday was a wonderful adventure. We got up after not quite enough sleep and made our way to the theater. On our way there, we cut through on 14th and there was a sandwich board advertising coffee… and yarn. Really. Totally accidentally, I stumbled upon a yarn shop between my hotel and the singing venue.

NYUkefestI swear, I was ready to make this a totally singing weekend. It was a business trip, if indeed a fun one. And there it was. Knit New York. We passed it that day, but I figured I might have a chance to check it out before leaving town.

(In the end I did stop by there on Saturday morning on the way to the theater, while Brian waited on a bench outside, playing his ukulele. I had so little time I just found two pretty balls of Gedifra wool single-ply yarn in turquoises and spring greens, and went merrily on to the theatre… not sure what the yarn will be when it grows up.)

NYUkefestAt the theater we were scheduled for the Vaudeville Review. We rotated short sets with several other performers, to give a little taste of many styles to the afternoon audiences. It was great fun.

Oh… for the record, I crack myself up. I regard costuming/dressing up as an artform and thus spent quite a bit of time figuring out what I would wear long before we left home. I settled on a long black strappy dress for Friday, a short sequined turquoise dress on Saturday, and my long sleek turquoise silk gown (my wedding dress, which I wear in promo photographs) on stage Sunday night.

NYUkefestI first swore I didn’t need a zillion knitted wraps and was just going to take my cobalt blue (with green and magenta) mohair ColorJoy Stole as my only wrap. It truly would go well with all three dresses. But somehow by the time I got to New York, I had four handknit wraps and a rayon wrap I bought in Kenya in my luggage.

NYUkefestSo then on Friday I wore my mohair Bloom Shawl, on Saturday I wore the mohair ColorJoy Stole, and on Sunday for the big show I wore my scribble lace, the first time I’d worn it. I can’t help myself, apparently! I just love dressing up and I love my knitted wraps.

OK, back to Friday. When we got to the the theater, there were all sorts of vendors set up, mostly to sell ukuleles but also sheet music and related items. There also were two tables for we musicians to sell CDs and related merchandise (kazoos, t-shirts, bumper stickers). It was crowded, but that was no surprise. There was enough room but no extra. After all, this was New York where space is at a premium.

NYUkefestWe watched our merchandise between sets. I chatted a lot with others and Brian did his best to jam with as many people as he could. When it was 5pm and our show was done, we changed into street clothes, went to 6th St. for some Indian food (the restaurant was really pretty but the food was fairly ordinary) and came back to watch the evening show.

NYUkefestI am just humbled by the folks on these stages. I mean, we play music on the same stage with them. And I am continually blown away with the originality, the energy, the showmanship, the musicianship, and the authenticity of the other performers at these ukefests we have attended over the last three+ years. I tell you, these folks are just great on stage, and then everyone is so approachable and human when they get off stage! I am living a dream, my friends.

The lineup on Friday was (I believe) these folks in about this order (it all went so fast that my mind can’t remember who was when so I’m using the program to help with the list):

Victoria Vox
Uke Jackson and the Radio Aces (with some amazing guest hula dancers on one number)
Lil’ Rev
Akamai Brain Collective with Abe Lagrimas Jr.
Mad Tea Party
The Moonlighters
Shorty Long

Any of these acts would have made a perfectly satisfying show alone. Together, well, it was magnificent. But it was not over yet…

Photos: 1&2) Vendors in main hallways at festival (top right photo, at left in cowboy hat, is Lil’ Rev). 3) Joel Eckhaus, instrument maker and musician, on stage. 4) A ukulele band of schoolchildren Saturday afternoon. 5) Friday’s Restaurant. 6) Victoria Vox (she of the wonderful voice). 7) Mysterious John of the band called Shorty Long, playing a Hershberger Art Kazoo I made for him. Behind him directly at left is “Just Plain Bob” Guz and at right is Pops Bayless… both playing ukuleles.